Trump administration to introduce plan cutting food stamps for 750,000 people

The Trump administration is set to announce a plan that would cut food stamp benefits for approximately 750,000 people, Bloomberg News reported on Tuesday. 

The plan, which is scheduled to be announced Wednesday, will make it more difficult for states to gain waivers from a requirement that beneficiaries of food stamps work or are enrolled in a vocational training program, according to Bloomberg, which cited sources familiar with the matter.  

The work or vocational training requirement applies to recipients who are “able-bodied” or those who are not caring for a child under six years old. Under the current guidelines, states can receive a waver for work requirements for those receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or its former name, food stamps, if its unemployment rate is at least 20 percent above the national rate, according to Bloomberg.   

The national unemployment rate was 3.6 percent in October.

The regulation was initially proposed in February, and the administration predicted that the rule would end benefits for 750,000 people in its first year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated that the move would save $1.1 billion in the first year and $7.9 billion over five years.

A person familiar with the measure confirmed to Bloomberg that the finalized regulation will have a similar impact. States seeking waivers under the rule would have to meet the stricter standards by April 1.

The Trump administration and GOP allies have long tried to reduce food stamp programs and implement federal restrictions. House Republicans tried to pass similar restrictions to the new rule last year, but the legislation was never passed in the Senate. 

The measure, which will be published in the Federal Register Thursday, is one of the three proposals that the Trump administration has backed. The administration has also sought to adapt “the types of government benefits that automatically qualify families for SNAP,”  according to a study from the Urban Institute. It has also called for changing the “approach to calculating standard utility allowances.”

The three programs together would limit food stamps for an estimated 3.7 million people and 2.1 million fewer households, according to the Urban Institute estimate. 

The Hill has reached out to the USDA for comment. 

[The Hill]

Trump lied about an Apple plant opening and Tim Cook didn’t correct him

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg raised eyebrows this week after a new report that he had a private dinner with President Donald Trump in October, the second closed-door meeting between the pair in a month. But Zuckerberg is hardly the only tech executive trying to curry favor with the president: Apple’s Tim Cook is doing something similar, and unlike the Facebook executive, he’s doing it out in the open.

Remember Tim Apple — the alter ego Trump created for the Apple CEO earlier this year? Well, he’s struck again. And he’s letting the president blatantly lie about the goings-on at his company in order to use Apple as a marketing tool for his presidency.

On Wednesday, Cook accompanied Trump, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, and the president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, on a tour of a manufacturing plant in Austin, Texas. Both at the plant and after, the president suggested that the plant had just opened and that it was the result of his presidency. No one at Apple corrected him, even though it’s not at all the case: The plant, which is run by a company called Flex, has been making Mac Pro computers there since 2013.

“For me, this is a very special day,” Trump said on the factory tour, apparently indicating the plant had just opened. Cook spoke after him and didn’t clarify what was going on, instead thanking the Trump administration, particularly those in attendance. “I’m grateful for their support and pulling today off and getting us to — this far. It would not be possible without them,” he said.

You could argue that Cook wasn’t quite sure that the president was saying the plant had just opened. Also on Wednesday, Apple announced the start of construction on a new office campus in Austin, so maybe Trump was referring to that. (Also, Apple building a new campus in Texas is good!)

But later in the day, it became abundantly clear that Trump was, in fact, making up a plant opening — and Apple still isn’t saying a word about it. On Wednesday evening, Trump tweeted out a campaign video of himself with Cook at the plant and wrote that he had “opened a major Apple Manufacturing plant in Texas” that day. But it’s just not true.

It’s not new for Trump to lie; he does it a lot. But for one of the most valuable companies in the world to allow itself to be used as part of a false marketing campaign from the president of the United States is, to put it lightly, not great.

Apple did not return multiple requests for comment on the matter and Cook hasn’t commented on it publicly. He could do so easily, even from his Twitter account, which he used to tout the plant’s launch when it first started shipping back in 2013.

Tariffs are why Tim Cook is letting this slide from Trump

Cook isn’t letting Trump make things up about Apple because he’s polite — it’s because, business-wise, it’s advantageous for him to do it, particularly in the context of the trade war with China.

Trump has consistently pushed Apple to manufacture more of its products in the US, even though some of his policies have made it harder for them to do. As Jack Nicas at the New York Times lays out, Apple and the White House have been going back and forth for months over where the company’s new Mac Pro will be made. Apple says it needs waivers on the tariffs to make it in Texas, and Trump initially said no but eventually gave in. And so, the computers are shipping from the US, complete with an “Assembled in USA” tag.

Cook knows that’s what matters to Trump — and was sure to emphasize it on the manufacturing tour on Wednesday.

“We cannot be more proud of the product,” he said. “It’s an example of American design, American manufacturing, and American ingenuity.”

Tim Cook sometimes criticizes the White House. Other times, he looks like its chief marketing officer.

Cook and Trump have at times had an adversarial relationship, but as time has gone on, they’ve leaned into the mutually beneficial parts of their dynamic instead.

On the 2016 campaign trail, Trump called for a boycott of Apple, and he has consistently pressured it to make more of its products in the United States. After Trump was elected, Cook sent a memo to Apple employees that didn’t directly mention the president but took a clear stance against his divisiveness. Cook has criticized Trump’s immigration policies and been vocal on family separation. Apple also warned early on that Trump’s tariffs might force it to raise prices.

But whatever their differences, they haven’t kept Cook from Trump’s orbit. He’s met with the president in the White House and done public events with Ivanka Trump and the president. He sits on a workforce policy advisory board to the president.

In one meeting at the White House earlier this year, the president mistakenly referred to Cook as “Tim Apple.” It was an admittedly funny moment, and afterward, Cook played along, changing his Twitter name to Tim and the Apple logo. (He’s since changed it back.) Trump, on the other hand, lied and insisted he hadn’t made the mistake.

Cook appears to have decided that while he might not agree with the more unsavory parts of Trump’s presidency, there’s a lot the company he runs has to gain from it.

The tax cut bill Trump signed in 2017 has been a huge windfall for Apple. It allowed the company to bring back billions of dollars in cash it had stashed abroad, save billions of dollars in taxes, and return billions of dollars in savings to its shareholders via stock buybacks. Apple has delivered public thank-yous to Trump with splashy announcements about investments in the US, which Trump name-checked during his 2018 State of the Union address. Call it some mutual free advertising.

So sure, it’s easy to be mad at Zuckerberg for having dinner with Trump (which is honestly not that big of a deal, especially in comparison to letting Trump lie in campaign ads, or, you know, having built a platform that’s being used to do enormous damage to democracy). But we shouldn’t just let Cook slide. He is at the helm of an iconic American brand in Apple, and he’s lending it to Trump, who’s using it to make false claims to boost his presidency.

[Vox]

TRUMP CLAIMS IVANKA ‘CREATED 14 MILLION JOBS’ BUT ONLY 5.5 MILLION HAVE BEEN CREATED DURING HIS PRESIDENCY

President Donald Trump on Tuesday spread fake news that his daughter and senior White House adviser Ivanka Trump has “created 14 million jobs,” a statement that many Twitter users quickly corrected him about.

The president credited his daughter, who has been promoting the administration’s workforce initiative, with the sky-high number during his speech at the Economic Club of New York.

“And when she started this, two and half years ago, her goal was 500,000 jobs,” the president said, regarding the administration’s ‘Pledge to America’s Workers.’

“She has now created 14 million jobs,” Trump claimed, “And they are being trained by these great companies, the greatest companies in the world because the government cannot train them. It’s a great thing.”

The president added: “14 million and going up.”

Many Twitter users shared why the president was wrong about the results of his daughter, whom he regularly praises.

Journalist James Fallows called it one of the president’s “lunatic claims.”

“TOTAL US employment rise in past 3 years, including normal population growth, is around 6 million. Share of that via Ivanka????” Fallows tweeted. “If reality mattered.”

Washington Post video editor JM Rieger noted that through August 2019, about 5.5 million jobs have been created under the Trump administration, less than half the amount the president attributed to his daughter. Rieger shared a Forbes story from September citing U.S. Department of Labor figures to show that job growth under President Trump has been weaker than forecast and that he has created 1.5 million fewer jobs than his predecessor Barack Obama.

CNN reporter Daniel Dale, whose Twitter profile states he engages in “fact-checking the president and other politicians,” explained why the president spoke “nonsensically.”

“These are education and training opportunities, many of them for existing employees and many planned before/entirely independent of the Pledge,” Dale tweeted.

A White House web page on the pledge states that since the president signed an executive order establishing the National Council for the American Worker in July 2018, “more than 300 companies and organizations have signed the Pledge, contributing to over 12 MILLION new education and training opportunities for American students and workers over the next five years.”

The council is co-chaired by Ivanka Trump. She has been traveling the United States and around the world promoting the administration’s workforce efforts including the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, which seeks to economically empower 50 million women in developing countries by 2025.

It is not clear what specific work Ivanka Trump has done to create jobs beyond promote the administration’s programs through in-person appearances and photo ops.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Newsweek on the president’s claim and numbers to back it up.

[Newsweek]

Donald Trump lies of 303,000 new jobs, more than twice the actual number

Economists were scratching their heads after President Trump tweeted about a “blowout” 303,000 jobs that the economy added in October, more than twice the 128,000 that the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported early Friday.

“Wow, a blowout JOBS number just out, adjusted for revisions and the General Motors strike, 303,000,” Trump tweeted. “This is far greater than expectations. USA ROCKS!”

Chris Lu, the former deputy secretary of labor for President Barack Obama, tweeted that Trump had “reached a new low and is making up fake numbers.”

Even though Trump’s comments about the jobs numbers included caveats about revisions and the GM strike, economists were still puzzling over his math.

“What the president said today is not tethered to any empirical reality,” said Joe Brusuelas, chief economist of RSM.

For one thing, Trump’s number throws in the 95,000 in upward revisions of job gains in August and September. Economist Michael Feroli of JPMorgan Chase says he typically doesn’t consider prior months’ revisions as part of the latest monthly tally. But Jim O’Sullivan, chief U.S. economist of High Frequency Economics, says it’s not unreasonable to include the upgrade since it does add to total U.S. payrolls.

Keep in mind, however, that when Trump has touted past strong jobs reports, he hasn’t highlighted any downward revisions to previous months.

The GM strike, meanwhile, idled 46,000 workers, BLS has said. BLS said Friday that motor vehicles and parts manufacturing lost 42,000 workers in October, suggesting it would have added 4,000 if not for the strike.

But wait. Economists expected the motor vehicle industry to lose another 10,000 to 12,000 jobs because of the strike’s ripple effect on auto suppliers, pushing the GM strike toll to as much as 58,000 jobs. Tomas Philipson, who chairs the Council of Economic Advisers, reckoned an even bigger impact on auto suppliers that nudged the GM effect to 60,000.

As a result, the White House is saying: But for the strike, total U.S. employment would have been 60,000 higher, so let’s add that to the October count.

Yet O’Sullivan says it doesn’t appear there was any noticeable effect of the strike on auto suppliers. Philipson’s math indicates the auto industry would have added about 20,000 jobs if not for the strike. But over the past six months, the sector has lost an average 2,000 jobs a month and didn’t gain more than 2,000 in any single month, O’Sullivan notes.

During an interview on Fox Business Network, Larry Kudlow, head of the National Economic Council, also cited the October layoffs of 20,000 temporary workers for the 2020 census. That, he said, should be added to the hypothetical scenario that doesn’t include GM or census effects.

So if we add the 95,000 jobs from prior months’ revisions, the 60,000 GM-related jobs and the 20,000 census jobs to the 128,000 total, voila – we get 303,000.

[USA Today]

Trump urges GM CEO Mary Barra to reopen or sell Lordstown, Ohio auto plant

President Donald Trump is pressuring General Motors to reopen the Lordstown, Ohio manufacturing plant that recently closed and put 1,700 people out of work. The president issued a series of tweets over the weekend and on Monday morning, urging GM to immediately begin discussions with the auto union.

Mr. Trump tweeted over the weekend and through Monday morning about his frustration with the plant’s closure, claiming that “car companies are all coming back to the U.S.” and touting the U.S. economy as “the envy of all.” On Sunday night, he disclosed in a tweet that he had vented his frustrations during a conversation with the company’s CEO, Mary Barra.

“I am not happy that it is closed when everything else in our Country is BOOMING,” Mr. Trump wrote. “I asked her to sell it or do something quickly. She blamed the UAW Union — I don’t care, I just want it open!”

The union is the United Automobile Workers, which represents the employees who lost their jobs in the Lordstown closure. Trump had previously told a UAW leader, David Green, to “get his act together and produce” for the Lordstown workers. Green didn’t respond to a request for comment Sunday.

Workers at the Lordstown plant worked their last shift earlier this month. More than 3,300 hourly workers were laid off indefinitely, representing about 7 percent of GM’s hourly U.S. employees. The cuts come as the automaker enjoyed a near-record $12 billion profit last year.

On Monday morning, Mr. Trump reiterated his support for the Lordstown plant to reopen quickly.

“General Motors and the UAW are going to start ‘talks’ in September/October. Why wait, start them now!,” he tweeted. “I want jobs to stay in the U.S.A. and want Lordstown (Ohio), in one of the best economies in our history, opened or sold to a company who will open it up fast!”

[CBS News]

White House seeks to end subsidies for electric cars and renewable energy

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Monday the Trump administration wants to end subsidies for electric cars and other items, including renewable energy sources.

Asked about plans after General Motors Co (GM.N) announced U.S. plant closings and layoffs last week, Kudlow pointed to the $2,500-to-$7,500 tax credit for consumers who buy plug-in electric vehicles, including those made by GM, under federal law.

“As a matter of our policy, we want to end all of those subsidies,” Kudlow said. “And by the way, other subsidies that were imposed during the Obama administration, we are ending, whether it’s for renewables and so forth.”

Asked about a timeline, he said: “It’s just all going to end in the near future. I don’t know whether it will end in 2020 or 2021.”

The tax credits are capped by Congress at 200,000 vehicles per manufacturer, after which the subsidy phases out. GM has said it expects to hit the threshold by the end of 2018, which means under the current law, its tax credit scheme would end in 2020. Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) said in July it had hit the threshold. Other automakers may not hit the cap for several years.

Experts say the White House cannot change the cap unilaterally. U.S. President Donald Trump last week threatened to eliminate subsidies for GM in retaliation for the company’s decision.

Kudlow made clear any changes in subsidies would not just affect GM. “I think legally you just can’t,” he said.

Democrats will take control of the U.S. House in January and are unlikely to agree to end subsidies for electric cars and many have been pushing for additional incentives.

Tesla and GM have lobbied Congress for months to lift the cap on electric vehicles or make other changes, but face an uphill battle make changes before the current Congress expires.

In October, Senator Dean Heller proposed lifting the current cap on electric vehicles eligible for tax credits but phase out the credit for the entire industry in 2022. Two other senators in September proposed lifting the per manufacturer credit and extending the benefit for 10 years.

Also in October, Senator John Barrasso a Republican who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, proposed legislation to end the EV tax credit entirely.

[Raw Story]

Trump threatens to cut federal incentives for GM’s electric car

President Trump on Tuesday threatened to end General Motors’s federal tax credit for electric vehicles in retaliation for the company’s planned layoffs.

Trump tweeted that he is “very disappointed” with the company’s plans to close up to five manufacturing plants — four of them in the United States, one in Canada — and lay off about 15 percent of its workforce.

“We are now looking at cutting all @GM subsidies, including … for electric cars,” he wrote.

GM’s share price fell on the New York Stock Exchange in the minutes after Trump’s tweet, reaching as low as 3.8 percent below Monday’s closing price.

In a statement on Tuesday afternoon, the automaker said it appreciates “the actions this administration has taken on behalf of industry to improve the overall competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing” and that “many of the U.S. workers impacted” by Monday’s layoff announcement “will have the opportunity to shift to other GM plants.”

“GM is committed to maintaining a strong manufacturing presence in the U.S., as evidenced by our more than $22 billion investments in U.S. operations since 2009. Yesterday’s announcements support our ability to invest for future growth and position the company for long-term success and maintain and grow American jobs,” the company said.

Trump has blasted GM and its CEO, Mary Barra, since the Monday morning layoff announcements and has pledged to take action to prevent the job losses.

It’s unclear what other subsidies might be targeted by Trump, whether he would focus only on GM or end the tax credit altogether. Ending the subsidy would require Congress to pass a new law.

The federal government provides a $7,500 tax break to U.S. consumers who buy electric vehicles. Two GM vehicles qualify for the incentive: the all-electric Chevrolet Bolt and the plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt.

Larry Kudlow, Trump’s top economic adviser, on Tuesday also mentioned potentially targeting the electric vehicle credit.

“We are going to be looking at certain subsidies regarding electric cars and others, whether they should apply or not. I can’t say anything final about that, but we’re looking into it,” Kudlow told reporters in a White House briefing before Trump’s tweet.

“Again, that reflects the president’s own disappointment regarding these actions,” he said of the plant closings.

At the same briefing, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was noncommittal on when Trump might make good on his threat.
“I don’t know that there’s a specific timeline,” she said.
“As he said, he’s looking into what those options might look like,” she added. “The president wants to see American companies build cars here in America, not build them overseas, and he is hopeful that GM will continue to do that here.”

As of the third quarter of 2018, GM was less than 4,000 vehicles away from hitting the point at which federal tax credits start to phase out. The phase-out starts when a manufacturer sells 200,000 electric cars.

GM and other automakers are lobbying Congress to lift the 200,000-vehicle limit. Bills in both the House and Senate have been introduced but neither chamber has passed one of the measures.

Support for the tax credit generally falls along party lines, with Democrats in strong support and Republicans opposed. Nonetheless, Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), who lost his reelection fight earlier this month, is the lead sponsor on one bill to lift the cap on the credit.

[The Hill]

Trump, When Asked Why He Sided With Saudi Arabia Over CIA: ‘Because It’s America First!

President Donald Trump was asked by a reporter on Tuesday why he sided with Saudi Arabia over his own intelligence agencies regarding who is responsible for the murder or Jamal Khashoggi.

Trump issued a bizarre statement on Tuesday announcing the U.S. would stand by Saudi Arabia regardless of whether Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of the Washington Post writer in Turkey, as the CIA has reportedly concluded.

“It’s a shame, but it is what it is,” Trump told reporters as he made his way from Washington D.C. to his Mar-a-Lago resort for Thanksgiving.

“Why are you siding with Saudi Arabia over your own intelligence community?” a reporter asked.

“Because it’s America First,” Trump replied. “It’s all about American First. We’re not going to give up hundreds of billions of dollars in orders, and let Russia and China have them.”

(The Washington Post called Trump’s claims about the jobs and revenue created by Saudi investment in the U.S. a “fantasy” in their report on his statement.)

“We are with Saudi Arabia, we’re staying with Saudi Arabia,” Trump added.

Trump’s statement drew criticism for its apparent defense of Saudi Arabia’s actions and questioning of its leader’s culpability in the gruesome murder of a dissident who resided in the United States.

“Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!” Trump wrote in his statement. “That being said, we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran.”

[Mediaite]

After scathing op-ed, Trump defends leadership by taking credit for Obama’s economic policies

After the publication of a scathingly critical essay purportedly from an anonymous senior administration official, President Donald Trump used a series of morning tweets to defend his leadership, citing strong economic data and praise from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“The Deep State and the Left, and their vehicle, the Fake News Media, are going Crazy – & they don’t know what to do,” Trump tweeted. “The Economy is booming like never before, Jobs are at Historic Highs, soon TWO Supreme Court Justices & maybe Declassification to find Additional Corruption. Wow!”

The New York Times published an op-ed Wednesday that it said was from a senior official who described the president as erratic and amoral and said staff worked to thwart “misguided” decisions they feared would be detrimental to the country.

In the hours after the Times posted the story Wednesday afternoon, an angry Trump criticized the newspaper for not identifying the author. He demanded that the Times out him or her and suggested that the person should be investigated.

In a third post, Trump returned to the economy, proclaiming “consumer confidence highest in 18 years, Atlanta Fed forecasts 4.7 GDP, manufacturing jobs highest in many years.”

[USA Today]

Trump celebrates as youth unemployment hits half-century low

President Trump on Friday celebrated summer youth unemployment reaching the lowest rate since 1966.

“Just announced, youth unemployment is at a 50 year low!” Trump tweeted Friday morning.

The Bureau of Labor statistics reported Thursday that the youth unemployment rate was 9.2 percent in July 2018. The number signified the lowest summer youth unemployment rate since 1966.

The youth labor force consists of 16 to 24-year-old who are seeking work. The youth workforce swells each summer as high school and college students seek summer jobs, and new college graduates pursue permanent employment.

[Washington Examiner]

Reality

But the labor-force participation rate stands at 60.6 percent, far below its peak of 77.5 percent in July 1989, the BLS added. This rate illustrates the share of 16 to 24 year olds who are working or looking and available for work.

For 16-to-19 year-olds in particular, participation is at a record low. Just 35 percent of that age group is looking for work or working—the lowest figure since record-keeping started in 1948.

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